Issue #32, 2009

What is a Stadium? And where does it take Place?
Iris Dressler


The preoccupation with the stadium has a history spanning over 2,700 years, with its social, political, urban and economic functions or manner in which it organises masses, admitting of a number of approaches and readings: the stadium as a place of sporting competition, as container for mass events, as challenge to architects and engineers, as television studio, as prison, as a relevant target for attacks, as a testing ground for counter insurgency measures and terrorist attacks, as location factor, as entertainment park, as political stage, as a means of advertising... A history of the stadium and its significance would be no linear narrative but a plurality of stories to be told along complex layers of interest and balances of power. The series of considerations elaborated in the following make no pretence of comprehending the stadium in its entirety. At the same time, the analysis of the stadium ought not solely be reduced to one aspect. I proceed rather on the assumption that the stadium is a place or instrument – since the stadium is far more than mere architecture – of premeditated and organised contradiction: between presence and absence, inclusion and exclusion, ideology and the innocuous, the private and the public, hierarchy and equality, control and unpredictability, violence and spectacle. The stadium also invariably represents the opposite of that which it supposedly represents.

Moreover, it seems to me that in a very particular sense the stadium is a place of exposure in simultaneous camouflage. Thus, one overexposes here the sporting contest as a game devoid of any kind of politics and, at the same time, carries out the struggle for local, national, ideological, economic and territorial supremacy. These battles are also, very obviously, carried out in the stadium, for example, as displayed by flags, hymns, barriers or advertising banners. And yet, precisely because the stadium is, above all, a spectacle, an instrument for stimulating and manipulating emotions, ideology is then rendered one of the “most beautiful irrelevancies of the world”.

Even the concept “stadium” itself is diffuse. According to its literal meaning, it refers to a classical Greek measurement of length denoting the u-formed track encircled by spectator terraces. Thus, the modern stadium is derived less from classical antiquity but rather from the amphitheatre and the circus: a round theatre without roof in the centre of which was situated the round or oval sand-covered arena. The sand served to cover up the pools of blood between the various contests. Today, stadiums also bear such designations as arena, dome, park or garden, prefixed to which is often the name of a major conglomerate.

The following analysis refers mainly to present-day structures of the stadium, though even with this restriction, a unified type cannot be discerned. Most cities and regions have at their disposal several stadiums of varying, hardly comparable sizes, architectures, significance, operators, functions and infrastructures such as the GAZI-Stadion in Stuttgart, the Porsche-Arena and the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion. My particular interest concerns those types of stadiums which, over the course of the 20th century, have evolved into “media architectures” (Muntadas) and, with the onset of the 21st century, have evolved from sober-functional edi­fices to spectacular, biomorphic landmarks that often simulate weightlessness: such as the planned, nest-like Olympia Stadium in Beijing (Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron), the Olympic Stadium in Athens (Santiago Calatravas) or the Wembley National Stadium in London (Sir Norman Foster). For the stadium has meanwhile replaced the museum as an object of urban prestige. One symptomatic reflection of this transformation is that in Rotterdam, in the year 2000, the first comprehensive retrospective on the theme of modern stadium architecture took place.1 Since the 1970s, these multi-functional, high-tech stadiums have been built according to the standard specifications stipulated by such associations such as the IOC, UEFA and FIFA – those monopolists in the television licensing and spon­sor­ship contracts trade – and, of late, have been designed by star architects. They primarily serve the competition between cities as well as as trademarks and regularly bring into circulation enormous sums of public and private capital. For: “Around the globe, mega-events, such as the Olympic Games, football World Cups or large, regional sporting events take place in two-year cycles. In the process, several hundred million euros were invested in the stadiums alone. If one also counts the infrastructural investments in airports, harbours, train stations and transportation routes, there then emerges a market worth billions.”2 As is com­mon­ly known, the business in and around sport and stadiums is far from fair. Each time, the staged-managed commotion surrounding new cases of doping abuse merely serves to distract from the fact that corruption and manipulation comprise an integral part of the world of sports and stadiums.

Since 1989, in the context of his multimedia installation Stadium: Homage to the Audience, Muntadas has been examining the standards and the specificities, as well as the transformations, in the significance and function of stadiums. Here, it is the public, namely, those masses organised by the stadium, which occupy centre stage. Furthermore, in the context of the exhibition Protokolle the artist analysed the stadium with respect to the set of rules which it generates. My reflections on the complex stadium take up these readings and identifications.


The history of the stadium’s development is characterised equally by constants and by location and temporally conditioned transformation. Hence, the stadium has always been a “container for mass events” (Muntadas). The multi storey Colosseum could already contain up to 85,000 and the Circus Maximus even up to 180,000 persons. By comparison with respect to spectator capacity: the largest stadium in the world, the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, erected in 1950, could accommodate up to 200,000 spectators, though meanwhile, in spite of its decrepit condition and deficient modern standards of security, it is still able to cope with 140,000 visitors. It was only superceded by the Masaryk Stadium, erected in Prague between 1926 and 1937 with a capacity for 250,000 seats, which today, however, rather resembles a ruin. One constant factor of the stadium has thus consisted in the relation between masses and architecture, namely, the regulation of the movement and stay of masses within and outside of the architecture. At the same time, it is the experience of masses which constitutes the essential element of the stadium as spectacle.

No less remarkable is that the basic geometric form of the stadium – a circle, an ellipse or a rectangle – has remained unchanged since its invention. By contrast, the architectural and design elements around this basic geometric form, as well as the concept of the utility and the status of stadiums, have repeatedly shifted. In this respect, they have long since ceased to be simply the places in which cer­tain sporting contests are carried out (if ever they were) but rather highly flexible architectural complexes, whose logistics accommodate sporting events of the most diverse kinds, as well as pop concerts, opera performances, mass political and religious events or – in the case of the The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans – housing for tens of thousands of homeless persons. Stadiums served and continue to serve as places for holding prisoners in custody as well as for public and non-public executions. In contemporary stadiums, one can find shops, restaurants, cinemas and various other consumer facilities. They offer generous VIP lounges, space and infrastructure for conventions, and one may carry out christenings and weddings in stadiums no less than business lunches or receptions. Whereas stadiums were once3 the domain of male wind and weather resistant “football proletarians”, today they are comfortably equipped, air-conditioned and family friendly places for day trips. And, at the same time, they are exclusive stages for small and large, semi-public as well as intimate, business-class meetings. The hierarchically organised biotope called stadium (arena, park, ...) appears capable of adopting itself so as to cater to all desires, from the extroverted and discrete, the masses and social classes, control and ecstasy. One simple metaphor for this is the chameleon-like exterior skin of the Munich Allianz-Arena. It is ablaze alternately with the red or blue colours of the two football associations, among others, to which the stadium is home. For up to 180,000, one may even rent year-round luxury apartments: “It’s going to become the biggest bordello in the world”, is something that could also be read about it, “it is already lit up in red.”4

According to the architect Dominique Perrault, the stadium can no longer be conceived as a single building but rather as a landscape coupling the stadium with supermarkets, schools and factories.5 This “totalitarian” vision, reminiscent of the industrial period urban model, corresponds exactly to those urban development myths and master plans which, for decades now, have been preaching shopping malls and theme parks as the key to the structural transformation from the old to the new industries. Whereas the marketing discourses on the Arena in the CentrO Oberhausen may still have been the multi-functional shopping paradise, the cir­cum­stances now seem to be reversed. Perhaps this is because the best seller “What You Now Need is a Shopping Mall” has become somewhat hackneyed even among politicians. What the latter now need for marketing themselves are Olympics, World Cups, UEFA and the like: and what this means is new stadiums and everything else required for this, from high-rise to subterranean construction. The 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona were groundbreaking for the contemporary phantasmagorias of a self-generating, quasi-natural reciprocal effect between big sporting events, urban development image improvement, increased tourism and prosperity. And yet, already during the bidding for this sports event, as in the case of the Leipzig Olympic bid, “there were significant discrepancies . . . between self-perception and actual chances . . . The games were considered as a type of money spinner which one would only have to have a share in, so as to solve one’s money troubles, . . . astronomic gains and a consolidation of ailing city budgets – all these aims were actually sold with the advertisement supplied «free of charge».”6 Should one follow the dizzying pledges of German politicians with respect to the wondrous economic power of the 2006 World Cup, one might almost be led to believe that, for a short while, Germany had become a developing country. What is kept silent here is that one can and must afford such spectacles. Exhibitions, biennales and cultural capitals are also regularly invoked as apparent money makers, although, compared to sporting events, their populist scope and thus the economic possibilities projected on to them is significantly more moderate. Success stories such as told by Guggenheim-Bilbao are extremely rare.

Name Dropping

Even though the entire logistics of the stadium, as noted above, are geared towards the attraction and mastery of the masses, these masses being addressed have long ceased to be those within the stadium itself but rather outside it: namely, the million-strong public in front of the television. As is well known, this is due to the fact that lucrative business is not ensured by the sale of tickets but by the sale of broadcasting licences and advertising spots, as experienced recently during the FIFA World Cup 2006TM, over which veritable battles were fought. It was only the global television public which first made it possible for the stadium to become at all interesting for major sponsors who are no longer satisfied with profane perimeter advertising. In Germany between 2001 and 2005, for example, the sale of the naming rights of stadiums established itself as a worthwhile business: the Hambur­ger Volkspark-Stadion became the AOL-Arena (2001), the Dortmund Westfalenstadion the Signal-Iduna Park (2005), the Frankfurt Waldstadion the Commerzbank- Arena (2005) and the AufSchalke became the Veltins-Arena (2005). With the renaming of the Neckar-Stadion (opened in Stuttgart in 1933 as the Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn/Adolf Hitler Battle Track) as the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion (2004), one still sought to conceal commercialisation. The new stadium in Munich, by contrast, was named the Allianz-Arena (2005) from the outset. Football fans also call it the “Arrogance Arena”.

Decisive for this renaming of stadiums was, last but not least, Germany having received the FIFA World Cup 2006TM, on the basis of which many cities justified the renovation or the new construction of stadiums, the financing of which they sought to secure by the sale of the naming rights, and naturally, during the World Cup, by then yielding these rights to the FIFA “occupation power” and its “unin­hibited mercantilism”.7

Mass Media and Media Masses

During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, through radio and television broadcasting as well as Leni Riefenstahl’s filming, the mass media were brought to the stadium for the first time in grand style. Today, large stadiums, with their mechanical sliding roofs and floodlight installations, are highly sophisticated, large-capacity television studios whose technical infrastructures are capable of processing the events on location within a matter of seconds for a world-wide television public: and for the stadium visitors themselves, who are only able to follow the events via large video screens in closest proximity, as well as the slow-motion replays enhanced by graphics, advertisements and commentaries. This is owing to the fact that, for the majority of spectators in most mega-stadiums, what takes place on the sports field can be only vaguely determined. “Public viewing”, namely the collective consumption of filtered and manipulated direct transmissions, takes place simultaneously within and outside the stadiums. It almost appears as if neither the viewers need the live event within the stadium nor the stadium the live spectators on location.

However, the system of the stadium actually functions only by the presence of masses which are here required less as spectators than as agents or creatures of atmosphere.8 Thus, the sound backdrop of the fans, as in the Amsterdam ArenA, for example, is transmitted in greater amplification in the VIP loges9, so as also to convey to the elite, invisible guests withdrawn into their sky boxes a sense of both distance and yet being there. From this perspective, as well as from that of the television, the possibility of a riot is no less thrilling than is the chance of an exciting game. The archaic stadium with its bloodied gladiator contests appears to be included in the price as a sort of tacit hope. At the same time, nobody needs fear an escalation as stadiums are in fact high-security locations: the locked-in spectators are well aware of their invisible observers who, concealed within their sky boxes behind television and surveillance cameras, can covertly watch them at any time. They know (and play with the fact) that they may enter the picture optionally, at any given time, even in the broadcasted pictures which are projected before them much like a mirror.

In any case, the atmosphere which the mass public within the stadium – that “proletarian temple of bawl with VIP fringes”10 – creates does not serve, first and foremost, as a means of cheering on the players but rather serves the identification of a removed mass public on the one hand and those present and, at the same time, elevated guests on the other. And simultaneously the masses provoke themselves: their sound backdrop is not only transmitted to the VIP loges and television cameras but is echoed back in increased amplification to the fans who, with their own echo, make a sort of bet with themselves that they can spur themselves on. The stadium is a place of multiple filters, of coupling and hallucinations. Where does it actually take place?

Discipline and Induced Hysteria

Long before it was usurped by the mass media, the stadium had always exhibited analogies to theatre and did, in fact, emerge from this. In imitation of a Greek theatre, the tribune of the Waldstadion was opened in Frankfurt in 1925 “in the midst of galloping inflation and unemployment” as “the most beautiful German sport hall”.11 The Colosseum has already been equipped with complex mechanical stage technology comprising trapdoors, ramps and elevators. Likewise, the segmented ground plan of a modern stadium indicates its proximity to theatre. It fragments and separates this ground plan in clearly defined zones for rival fans, VIPs, special and honorary guests, trainers and coaches, sponsors, media, police and security personnel etc., that is to say it creates order and an overview, guaranteeing well-regulated activities and ensuring that the various target groups do not trespass on one another’s territory.

However, unlike theatre, the stadium stage and spectator terrace are equally acted on by players who do not reciprocally address each other but rather a third instance, namely, the cameras. The bodies of the player-players and the bodies of the spectator-players thereby follow the set of rules and choreographies respec­tively allocated to them. A spectrum, precisely adjusted, between strict order and tolerated, mediagenic exuberance constitutes the essential element of these for­malities. The bringing in of the Olympic fire, the national parades, the infantile acrobatic exertions by football players (which result in the most common type of sport injuries in professional football), their histrionic injuries of pain or the pub­licly effective groaning by tennis players belong to this no less than do the La-Ola waves or the burlesque, frequently masqueraded enlargement of the human body by the fans. The question as to how far the self-staged and choreographic needs of the stadium visitors are permitted to go is, as a rule, balanced at the very edges of security regulations, for the initially forbidden props, such as Bengali fire, smoke bombs, large flags or noise-making instruments, cater “to the incomparable – in the media highly praised southern, marketable, mood-making enthusiasm and atmosphere within the stadium”.12 Thus, in case of doubt, the control of the masses within the stadium is not oriented on aspects of security but rather on the mar­ketabil­ity of images. Banners on which can be read “we wouldn’t even piss on you if you were on fire”13, by contrast, are considered acts of sabotage. These, and not so much the smoke bombs, carry the penalty of being sent off. Structures of censorship establish themselves alongside the stadium worlds. When the Stiftung-Warentest (German consumer safety group) criticised the security of a number of German World Cup stadiums, they were heavily attacked by politicians and the OC (Organisation Committee), their competence put into question.

The introduction of seats and the elimination of standing places count among the essential elements of “crowd control” in stadiums, a development which asserted itself initially in Great Britain and afterwards internationally after the experience of mass panic in the Sheffield Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.14 Neither the UEFA nor IOC or FIFA tolerate standing fans. This is because the seated fan is in a number of ways easier to control: he is not able to choose his seat but is allocated one. He is easier to find, and his movements are calculable. The spontaneous formation of groups and other erratic actions are less frequent. And, it just so happens that in connection with the increased overall comfort in the stadium, higher prices can be charged for seats – and thereby “the social composition of the stadium public changes in an upward direction”.15 Another advantage is, lastly, that seats can also be given various coloured designs. Not only is the seating thereby rendered more manageable but also, in the case of empty terraces, from the perspective of television cameras and from a distance, the coloured surfaces even appear as an occupied stadium. Stadium visitors, who stand too long on their seats or even stand up and sing together, namely, those in conscious breach of stadium regulations, will be put on the carpet – even prohibited from visiting the stadium. “The simplistic power struggle between the fans who wish to stand up and the club management, wishing to see everyone sitting in their places, will, in the long run, be resolved by the ironic television variant of mass rebellion: the wave – the mediagenic symbol of ironic masses par excellence.”16

The body in the stadium is still, in the staged-managed “being-out-of-oneself”, a disciplined one. It is, namely, a body which acts both theatrically or hysterically in front of the television and surveillance cameras. That this also applies to the actual actors, the player-players, is something magnificently demonstrated once again in Zinédine Zidane’s last entry; and again, right up to the fact that a Chinese businessman has already secured the rights to a silhouette representation of the Zidane/Materazzi clash, with the aim of marketing these on T-Shirts, baseball caps, bottled drinks, and such like.17 In this way, the stadium body returns to what it once was: a sign. As is well known, this logic has been used (and is used) by dictatorial regimes in which thousands of bodies form in gigantic moving images. More than anything else, the body in the stadium has become a marketable product: whereby a football player and the exploiter of image rights stand to make millions in this function, the common fan still has to pay an admission fee. Finally, what can also be noted in conjunction with the increased media coverage and commercialisation of the stadium, as well as the predominance of seats and the separation of groups of visitors since the 1970s, is the continual disappearance of spectator capacity. From the point of view of masses, the stadium also seems to shrink.

Enclosure of the Masses

According to Camiel van Winkel, if “one could view the building of stadiums as a video in fast-forward” then “a prolonged and continuous enclosing of the masses would become visible”, right up to the movable sliding roofs.18 With respect to its techniques of containing and controlling masses, structurally the stadium has often been described as a panopticon. It equally resembles a theatre and prison. Whoever wishes to put the masses under a spell will lead these into the stadium. And, conversely, one might also believe that everything that causes trouble finds its way into the stadium. Hence, in the 1980s, for example, one considered moving the famous London street carnival in Notting Hill into the stadium.19 During the 2003 WTO summit in Cancún (Mexico), the disagreeable demonstrators were to be distributed among the various stadiums.20 Most of the high-tech arenas are equip­ped with detention cells for so-called “problem fans”. In Dortmund it appears that one is particularly proud of this since on the website of the BVB football club one is able to navigate through the stadium prison in a 360 degree pan.21

Indeed, in that they maintain the appropriate infrastructure, stadiums22 have also served as temporary, large-capacity prisons, such as the Paris racecourse Vélo­drome d’Hiver or the Vienna Prater Stadion, in which thousands of Jews were interned during the Third Reich. In September 1973, after Pinochet’s military putsch, his soldiers used the national stadium in Santiago de Chile as an assembly camp. In connection with a World Cup qualification game between Chile and the USSR, which was to take place there in the same year, a delegation of FIFA func­tionaries travelled to Chile in order to inform themselves about conditions in the stadium. Their conclusion was that “life had returned to normal” and that nothing spoke against the play-off in Chile. However, according to statements made by Amnesty International, at the time of the FIFA inspection there were still 2,000 prisoners interned in the stadium.23 According to further reports, one had at that time already dispensed with the majority of the prisoners by means of mass murder. Another foreign witness of the situation in Chile, the former CDU General Secretary Bruno Heck, disclosed to the Süddeutsche Zeitung in October 1973: “So far as we were able to determine, the military government is making the utmost effort to treat the prisoners well... In sunny weather, life in the stadium is really quite pleasant indeed.“24 However, as is known, due to the USSR’s boycott, the game in Chile did not take place. Cold War policy-making and the policies governing the stadium coincided in Chile at several levels.

The structural and logistical capacities of the stadium for the enclosure, contain­ment and management of the masses can equally and simultaneously appear as an ideal prison and mega-stage for all manner of propaganda forms and power gesturing. Which is one reason why not only the Pope, pop stars and dictators like to make an appearance in stadiums but also that public executions were some­times relocated there, something which also could be carried out secretly.

As a place for assembling the masses, on the one hand, and a symbolic concentration of national, political, economic, cultural and cult-like values, on the other, the stadium is thus also a relevant target for attacks, something which has likewise been used as an argument for turning stadiums into high-security prisons. Thus, in regard to the hardly justifiable increase of security measures during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens or the 2006 World Cup in Germany, one not only refer­red to the “problem fans” but also to potential terror scenarios. These so-called security measures ranged from the personalisation of the digitalised admission cards (long since introduced) to the security systems in stadiums and city centres, the intelli­gence patrols on land, water and air, right up to the temporary abolishment (in Germany) of the Schengen Accord. What this means is that not only the architectural structures of the stadium itself but also the surrounding spaces will increasingly become testing grounds for local and international counter insur­gency measures and for combating terrorism. At the same time, stadium opera­tors have always preached that sport (or entertainment) is the epitome of the non-political – by which they simply express the stadium’s policy: camouflage by means of spectacle.

Here, the enclosure of masses in stadiums not only conforms to the need for ensuring their safe custody but also to the development of the stadium right up to the canopied television studio. Wherever television and surveillance coincide, the “broad­­casting dome of the ’Truman Show’ . . . is really not that far fetched”,25 as Jochen Becker has pointed out. And this is all the more so where the stadium, as FIFA WM 2006TM has demonstrated, seizes the public space in the extensive manner of an occupying force: namely where the public space – which the stadium has long-since ceased to be – has been sequestered and interpreted as the territory of the stadium landscape.

The World As FIFA’s Guest

Gregor Lentze, the managing director of FIFA’s own marketing company, unam­bigu­ously summed up the situation: “The World Cup is not common property but the private event of 207 football associations” 26 – that is, FIFA itself. A “private event”, mind you, which was partially financed by public authorities with several million euro. Thus, as is known, within the framework of the football World Cup, the Olympic Games and suchlike, the competition kicks off as competition between cities by substantial sums being invested. One touts for the permission to host a large-scale private event from the crumbs of which one dreams for prestige and wealth. In the context of this competition, the UEFA years before already provided a classification system27, which as highest decoration – and at the same time as precondition for holding particular games – awards four or five stars. A five-star stadium must, among other things, be able to accommodate at least 50,000 spectators, have seats with backrests, floodlight installations with a minimum power of 1,400 lux as well as be able to provide first-class changing rooms for the associa­tions and the referee. The quality standards for the functionaries and honorary guests are no less evaluated than are the security standards and communication systems. In addition, the requirements for infrastructures in the immediate vicinity, such as international airports as well as accommodation facilities, are a crucial part of the “stadium de luxe”.

FIFA also produced a comprehensive catalogue of rules for appropriately conducting the 2006 World Cup in Germany. With this blindly obeyed, so-called “Book of Duties”, FIFA was released from its deduction at source tax since it would have, if anything, simply held their party elsewhere. For the apparent “recapitalisation case Germany” (Angela Merkel), an estimated 250 million apparently escaped unnoticed.

During the World Cup, moreover, FIFA- WM- 2006TM cities agreed to declare their stadiums – including predefined, inviolable precincts located around them – as “licensed areas”. These “licensed areas” had been reserved exclusively for the logos and marketing initiatives of the main and national sponsors of FIFA, since FIFA collected approximately 40 million from each of the major sponsors alone. As a consequence, “false” businesses located close to the stadiums in question were forced to conceal or demount their logos during the World Cup. All stadiums which had previously sold their naming rights to conglomerates were “neutralis­ed”, namely, in the course of a bizarre form of capitalist-planned economy, they were renamed as “FIFA World Cup stadiums” and were thereby also forced to take down their company signets.

While the civil services had shortly before been engaged in bitter struggles about working hours (which was, in fact, a matter of minutes) by striking for months on end, with FIFA, holiday stoppages and overtime all of a sudden became possible. Especially the security and waste disposal forces had to pay, that is, forces which just before, in carrying out the interests of the civil service functionaries, served as an allegory of exploitation. In a certain way they were effectively passed from functionary to functionary as loaned workers. One was, after all, celebrating “the world as guest among friends”. And this was not only the case in and around the stadiums. In view of the gigantic spectator interest, FIFA and OC considered it “as a duty to offer the many fans who, unfortunately, were unable to obtain any tickets, nevertheless a World Cup atmosphere”28, namely, with the officially permitted “FIFA Fan Parties”. Thus, FIFA and their many friends and friends of friends were not only able to ensure for themselves the best places in the stadiums but were also able to command over two locations per World Cup city, in other words to “advertise the label FIFA Fussball WeltmeisterschaftTM far beyond the stadium parameters”.29

In Stuttgart, for instance, householder’s rights were transferred to them across the entire Schlossplatz, the city’s main square. This central square was then entirely fenced in, parking lights numbered for better orientation, lawns and flower beds giving way to artificial mats. It was only possible to enter the Schlossplatz through security gates on which were hung large signs displaying the new regulations on the spot. The “Fan Party Area”, organised in such a way that it was able to accommodate up to 40,000 visitors – and so, according to UEFA evaluation, achieved 4-star stadium status – naturally served as another exclusive playing style of FIFA sponsors, and, not to be forgotten, also as a playing style of anti-terrorist combatants. Around the location, in addition to the batteries of toilets, countless numbers of new surveillance cameras were installed as well as police bases and regional television. The “look” of all the 12 “Fan Parties” in Germany was centrally controlled by FIFA: as a result, from the perspective of the television cameras, not only did the stadiums look identical, but throughout the World Cup public places were entirely incorporated by the corporate identities of FIFA and their friends.

Stadium OFF (Muntadas)

Whereas in Stuttgart the Big Party was going down at the Schlossplatz, in Hamburg the Heiliggeistfeld, for example, was all abuzz with the “stadium atmosphere” and “fan-end feeling”, just like at the Waterlooplatz in Hanover where, moreover, promi­nent Hanover musicians stood on stage under the slogan: “Your game. Your friends. Your square!” It was probably with this that one addressed the local public, although one left open precisely how the pronoun “your” was supposed to be interpreted. At whose party were we, anyway?

With the SkyArena in Frankfurt, a three-day skyline illumination, and the MainArena, consisting in swimming video screens, even the elements had to serve as the honour of “public viewing”.

Whereas during the 1920s and 1930s the stadium was gradually banished from the urban area, with the “FIFA Fan Party” it temporarily returned to the inner city. Over a period of four weeks the concept of “crowd control” could be tested in public spaces on the basis of flexible infrastructures and mobile rapid-response troops. August Hanning, secretary of state at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, proudly declared: “In Berlin public viewing is protected like a substitute stadium.” With respect to public viewing, he was evidently inspired by his colleagues from South Korea where, years ago, one saw this as a “festival for the entire population in which one simply treats each public square like a stadium: with police searches, bag searches and an absolute ban on the consumption of alcohol. What was especially important for us was the role of the media. It was under obligation to ensure that these events were carried out without any violence, that no scenes of violence were broadcast.”30 In Germany this diktat of peaceful enthusiasm was also apparently recorded in scripts and on galley proofs.

With the ZDF-Arena at the Berlin Sony Center or the Adidas-Arena, which pres­ents itself at the Platz der Republik as a scaled-down replica of the Olympic Stadium, additional “OFF Stadiums” (Muntadas) were erected in the inner city area. According to the operator, the Adidas-Arena disposes “over all such facilities which are also a mark of the modern arenas of the FIFA World Cup 2006TM”. Since, next to a “VIP area”, there was also “a spacious hospitality area in which up to 250 persons could be entertained”.31 Thus, we once again discover that which marks out the stadium, namely through one of the chief FIFA sponsors who awarded himself with his own stadium amounting to 40,000 square metres of public space in his very own “World of Football”. Amateur players have, until now, been prohibited from playing football on this area. However, the victory in the OFF Arena ranking was gained by the ZDF-Arena at the Sony Center: one could hardly better exemplify the overlapping of stadium, television studio, public and corporate space.

With the FIFA Fan Party and their offshoots, the media and surveillance architec­ture of the stadium was transferred to the public space as a provisional model. Where this architecture had previously requested stadium visitors to leave – since there are only extras which can be found in the stadium itself – droves of these were now allocated to public places only to once again fulfil the role of extras: the chief concern of the cities was to “send out peaceful images from the inner cities into the world”.32 At the same time, under cover of the general party intoxication, the latter also awarded themselves with a generous test arrangement for seeing just how far they could go in selling off the public space: including its hierarchical segmentation, the trimming down of civil rights and free competition. Learning by Stadium, Learning by FIFA. It almost seems like an ironic act of desperation when, since then, Germany has been rejoicing in its national self-identity.


This text was originally published in the catalogue of the exhibition Muntadas – Proto­kolle, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, June 18 – September 10, 2006. Catalogue published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König, Cologne, 2007.

1. Jan Tabor, “Olé. Architektur der Erwartung: Traktat über das Stadion als Sonderty­pus politischer Geltungsbauten” (fragment), in Matthias Marschik/Rudolf Müllner et al. (eds.), Das Stadion: Geschichte, Architektur, Politik, Ökonomie, Vienna, 2005, p. 49.

2. Press information on the conference “Cathedrals 21st Century – Stadien, Arenen, Erlebniswelten“ during Bau Fair 2005 in Munich, in

3. Or at least from the 1920s to the end of the 1980s.

4. Michael Graeter, “Fußball und Champagner”, in Cicero: Magazin für politische Kultur, March 2006, cited after:

5.  ochen Becker, “Logistik der Massen: Vom Stadion zur Freizeitindustrie”, in Matthias Marschik/Rudolf Müllner, p. 355.

6. Matthias Bernt, “Grosse Träume in einer schrumpfendem Stadt: Ein Rückblick auf die Leipziger Olympiabewerbung”, in dérive: Zeitschrift für Stadtforschung, no. 20, July–September 2005, p. 29.

7. Christian Kortmann, “Der totalisierende Fetisch”, in taz, 9 May 2006, p. 15.

8. Jochen Becker, p. 344 sq.

9. Camiel van Winkel, “Tanz, Disziplin, Dichte und Tod: Die Masse im Stadion”, in Matthias Marschik/Rudolf Müllner, p. 255.

10. Jörg Schallenberg, “Allianz-Arena: Der dunkle Schatten des Supertempels von München”, 30 May 2005, in,1518,358087,00.html.


12. Günter Pilz, “Vom Kuttenfan und Hooligan zum Ultra: Wandel des Zuschauerverhaltens im Profifußball”, in Mit Sicherheit am Ball, Polizei Dein Partner, Zeitschrift der Gewerk­schaft der Polizei, 2006, p. 11.

13. The image with the corresponding banner bears the indication: “’Culture’ instiga­tions miss by far.” Illustration in Günter Pilz, p. 10.

14. Camiel van Winkel, p. 252.

15. Ibid., p. 253.

16. Ibid., p. 255.

17. “Kopfstoss-Spekulant”, in Spiegel-Online, 3 August 2006.

18. Camiel van Winkel, p. 251.

19. John Bale, “Stadien als Grenzen und Überwachungsräume”, in Matthias Marschik/Rudolf Müllenr,p. 39.

20. Bernhard Hachleitner, “Das Stadion als Gefängnis”, in Matthias Marschik/Rudolf Müllner, p. 258.


22. And, last but not least, because most of the year unused.

23. Bernhard Hachleitner, p. 267 sq.

24. Burkhard Schröder, “Der Putsch in Chile”, in Telepolis, 11 September 2003,

25. Jochen Becker, p. 359.

26. Cited after René Martens, Holger Gertz and Matthias Greulich, “Fußballfans als WM-Dekoration”, in Spiegel-Online, 7 March 2006.

27. Complete list of preconditions cf.:

28. Franz Beckenbauer, quoted in “Public Viewing in den WM Städten gesichert”, in =5&news_id=347.


30.  Fußball-WM: Von Hooligans und ’asymmetrischem Terror’”,, 31st March 2006.


32. Cf. “Public Viewing in den WM Städten gesichert”.